South Africa overturns ruling that halted Shell’s Wild Coast exploration

South Africa overturns ruling that halted Shell’s Wild Coast exploration

Oil major Shell won a reprieve for offshore exploration in the Wild Coast after a South African appeals court stayed an earlier lower court ruling that had halted exploration activities due to environmental concerns, Reuters reports.

Shell targeted South Africa’s Wild Coast for oil exploration in 2014, sparking a backlash from indigenous people in this eastern region of the country, concerned about the potential for contamination of land and water.

Local environmental activists campaigned against exploration and won a High Court ruling that effectively revoked Shell’s permit, according to Living on Earth (LOE) activists. However, on Monday, South Africa’s appeals court stayed the High Court ruling, clearing the way for Shell and other oil companies eyeing the Wild Coast to make their case in another round of public consultations, according to Reuters, which noted that the initial ruling against Shell largely revolved around the lack of a public consultation.

In its ruling on Monday, the appeals court recognized the oil companies’ exploration rights, including renewals that were granted in 2017 and 2021.

“In these circumstances… considerations of justice, equity and the principles of finality and certainty dictate that the harshness of the exploration right that has been set aside can and should be improved,” says the ruling, published electronically.

The South African Court of Appeal described the High Court’s conclusion that “authorizing new oil and gas exploration, with the objective of finding exploitable reserves of oil and/or gas and consequently leading to production, is not consistent with South Africa’s compliance with its international commitments on climate change. commitments” as if they had a “sterilizing effect” that “cannot be supported.”

The “sterilizing effect” loosely refers to the development of new offshore oil and gas in neighboring Namibia and Mozambique, which has revitalized investor interest in “last frontier” oil in Africa, making the Wild Coast be more poignant than it was when the original ruling halted exploration. .

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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